The race for the most Grand Slam titles has never been so tight
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, known collectively as the Big 3, have dominated the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for years. Despite all the great names in men’s tennis history, the Big 3 lead for the most ever Grand Slam titles won.
By winning his 13th Roland-Garros title on Oct. 11, a record in professional tennis, Nadal has joined Federer at the top of the list, tied with 20 Grand Slam titles each.
With all members of the Big 3 at different stages of their careers, it’s still unclear who’s going to finish with most triumphs. While both Federer and Nadal lead with 20, Djokovic’s not so far behind with 17.
At 33 years old, Djokovic is the youngest of the group. He’s arguably the only one who’s been able to compete against Federer and Nadal in every match, even beating them on many occasions, including in Grand Slam finals. Most of Djokovic’s impressive ATP records wouldn’t even be discussed today if it weren’t for his victories against Nadal and Federer along the way. As he’s just three Grand Slam titles away from tying them at 20, we can only imagine what may happen if he’s still playing after the other two retire.
Nadal, 34, may or may not finish his career with the most Grand Slam titles among the three, but what’s sure is that he has good chances of passing Federer if he stays healthy. Recognized as the best player ever on clay, Nadal could perhaps add a 21st major with a 14th Roland-Garros next year, as he’s won 100 of his 102 matches there.
It’s likely that Nadal will start reducing the number of tournaments he plays in a season. Federer has been doing so for a few years now, skipping almost all clay-court tournaments in order to better prepare for grass court tournaments and the annual U.S. Open on hard court in late summer. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Nadal start skipping the grass part of the season, and just focus on important clay and hard court tournaments.
Even though Federer said he will come back in 2021 despite currently recovering from a second knee surgery this year, it’s hard to know how the 39-year-old will perform in what could easily be his farewell season. In an optimistic scenario, Federer could add to his list of major titles by winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon, which he’s won six and eight times respectively. Federer won both tournaments in 2017, and his 20th Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2018 when he defended his title. Those seem to be his favourite majors, as his last Grand Slam other than those two was in 2009.
All members of the Big 3 have a case to finish on top for the most Grand Slam titles. They’re all at different stages of their careers, and all seem to dominate a different playing surface. Only time will tell where they end up.
Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion